Do Golden Retrievers Have Dew Claws?

Dewclaws, an extra digit on a dog’s paw, have been a subject of curiosity among Golden Retriever owners. Understanding whether this breed possesses them is crucial for their care. 

Yes, Golden Retrievers do have dew claws. These are the small, rudimentary digits located higher up on their legs.

In this article, I’ll explore the presence of dew claws in Golden Retrievers, shedding light on their purpose and potential maintenance.

Do Golden Retrievers Have Dew Claws?

Dewclaws, often a subject of curiosity among dog owners and enthusiasts, are small, non-functional claws or vestigial digits located on the inner side of a dog’s leg, usually higher up the leg and slightly apart from the main paw.

These claw-like structures are remnants of evolutionary history, harking back to a time when dogs’ ancestors had more digits on their limbs.

Golden Retrievers, like most dog breeds, can indeed have dew claws. These small, rudimentary claws are present on the inner side of their front legs.

In some cases, Golden Retrievers may also have dew claws on their hind legs, although this is less common.

They’re not exclusive to any particular breed; they can be found in various dog breeds and are more common in some than others.

While all Golden Retrievers are born with dew claws, many breeders opt to have them removed when the puppies are very young, typically within the first few days of life.

This practice is more common in the United States and is often done for practical reasons. Below are a few key points to consider regarding dew claws in Golden Retrievers:

1. Functionality:

Dew claws are generally not functional, meaning they don’t serve a purpose in the same way as the main claws on a dog’s paw.

Unlike the main claws, which are in contact with the ground and are used for traction and digging, dew claws are higher up on the leg and typically don’t touch the ground during normal walking or running.

2. Removal:

As mentioned earlier, many breeders choose to remove dew claws in Golden Retrievers and other breeds.

This is typically done for safety reasons, as dew claws can sometimes get caught on objects, torn, or injured. Removing them at a young age is a relatively simple procedure that involves the use of local anesthesia.

3. Identification:

If you’re unsure whether your Golden Retriever has dew claws, you can gently inspect their legs.

Dew claws are typically located on the inner side of the front legs, just above the wrist joint. In some cases, they may be partially hidden by fur.

4. Maintenance:

If your Golden Retriever has dew claws, it’s essential to keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t become overgrown or snagged on objects.

While they don’t usually require regular trimming, it’s a good idea to include them in your dog’s overall nail care routine.

Golden Retrievers can have dew claws, but whether they do or not may depend on whether breeders choose to remove them when the puppies are very young.

Dew claws are remnants of evolutionary history and are generally non-functional. If your Golden Retriever has dew claws, it’s essential to monitor them for safety and ensure they don’t cause any discomfort or issues for your furry friend.

Should I Remove My Golden Retriever’s Dewclaw?

Deciding whether or not to remove your Golden Retriever’s dewclaws is a matter that requires careful consideration. 

Dewclaws are the small, vestigial toes located on the inner side of a dog’s paw, slightly above the main paw pads.

In Golden Retrievers and many other breeds, these extra digits may not always serve a functional purpose, and this has led some owners to contemplate their removal.

What I can say is decision to remove dewclaws should not be taken lightly. Moreover, I’ve also discussed some of the essential consideration before you omit your golden dog’s dewclaws.

Why Shouldn’t I Remove My Golden Retriever’s Dewclaws?

Golden Retrievers are beloved for their friendly disposition, gentle nature, and their distinct dewclaws.

These small, seemingly insignificant appendages are often a source of confusion for dog owners. Should you remove your Golden Retriever’s dewclaws, or leave them intact? Here I’ll explore the reasons why you shouldn’t remove your Golden Retriever’s dewclaws.*

1. Dewclaws Serve a Purpose

Dewclaws, those extra toe-like structures on the inner side of your Golden Retriever’s legs, might appear vestigial, but they have a function.

Dewclaws provide stability during activities like running and turning, acting as a thumb-like anchor. These seemingly ‘extra’ toes can make a significant difference in your dog’s agility and balance.

2. Surgical Risks

Removing dewclaws is a surgical procedure that carries inherent risks. Anesthesia complications, infection, and post-surgery discomfort are all possible outcomes.

Moreover, dogs may chew at their surgical wounds, leading to complications that could have been entirely avoided.

3. Potential Behavioral Issues

Dogs communicate and interact with their environment using their paws. Dewclaws are part of this sensory apparatus.

Removing them can affect your dog’s tactile experience and potentially lead to behavioral issues, like anxiety or aggression, stemming from their altered perception of the world around them.

4. Dewclaws Aren’t as Prone to Injury as Believed

One common argument for dewclaw removal is that they are prone to injury. However, while it’s true that dewclaws can get caught on objects or torn during rough play, the likelihood of injury isn’t as high as often assumed.

Proper grooming and training can minimize the risk without resorting to removal.

5. Preservation of Breed Standards

For Golden Retriever owners interested in dog shows or preserving breed standards, removing dewclaws can be detrimental.

Dewclaws are part of the breed standard in many canine organizations, and altering this feature can lead to disqualification in competitions.

6. Ethical Considerations

Removing dewclaws is often done for cosmetic reasons, without clear medical necessity. This raises ethical questions about the welfare of our canine companions.

Before opting for dewclaw removal, it’s essential to consider whether the procedure is genuinely in your dog’s best interest.

Removing your Golden Retriever’s dewclaws should not be done lightly. These seemingly minor appendages serve important functions in your dog’s life, from stability during physical activities to tactile exploration of the world.

The risks associated with dewclaw removal, both surgical and behavioral, should give dog owners pause. Instead of opting for a cosmetic procedure, consider other ways to minimize the risk of injury, such as regular grooming and proper training.

Ultimately, the decision should prioritize your dog’s well-being and quality of life over cosmetic concerns.

How To Treat Dewclaws Injuries?

Dewclaws are the rudimentary fifth digit found on the limbs of some mammals, including dogs. While they may seem inconspicuous, dewclaws can be prone to injuries due to their position and vulnerability.

If your dog has injured their dewclaw, it’s crucial to provide prompt and proper treatment to prevent further complications. Here’s a guide on how to treat dewclaw injuries.

1. Assess the Injury

Begin by examining the extent of the injury. Look for signs of bleeding, swelling, or damage to the dewclaw. Minor injuries may involve a torn nail or a small cut, while more severe cases could include fractures or dislocations.

2. Clean the Wound

If there is an open wound, gently clean it with a mild antiseptic solution and warm water. This helps prevent infection. Be cautious not to use harsh chemicals or hydrogen peroxide, as they can further irritate the wound.

3. Stop the Bleeding

If the injury is bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or sterile gauze to stop the bleeding. Elevate the injured leg to reduce blood flow to the area.

4. Trim Excess Nail

If the injury involves a torn nail, carefully trim any loose or jagged edges. This will prevent further tearing and make the dog more comfortable.

5. Immobilize the Dewclaw

For more serious injuries like fractures or dislocations, it’s essential to immobilize the dewclaw. Gently wrap the affected leg with a bandage or a vet-approved splint to keep it stable.

6. Seek Veterinary Care

Regardless of the injury’s severity, it’s advisable to consult your veterinarian. They can provide professional assessment, prescribe pain relief, antibiotics if needed, and recommend a treatment plan based on the injury’s extent.

7. Prevent Future Injuries

To prevent future dewclaw injuries, keep your dog’s nails trimmed and avoid activities that could strain or damage the dewclaw.

Remember that dewclaw injuries can be painful for your furry friend. Providing immediate care and seeking veterinary advice ensures a swift and smooth recovery, helping your dog get back on their paws in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Do golden retrievers need their dew claws?

Golden retrievers don’t necessarily require their dew claws for basic functioning. Dew claw removal is a common practice in some breeds, including golden retrievers.

It’s primarily done to reduce the risk of injury and to align with breed standards. However, whether or not they “need” them depends on individual circumstances and the dog’s lifestyle.

Q2. Why do golden retrievers have dew claws removed?

Dew claw removal in golden retrievers is a precautionary measure aimed at safeguarding their well-being.

These extra digits are more susceptible to injury, especially during activities like running, playing, or roughhousing.

By removing dew claws, breeders and owners aim to prevent tears or injuries that could be painful and costly to treat.

Q3. What dog breeds don’t have dewclaws?

While dewclaws are common in most dog breeds, some breeds are more predisposed to having them removed due to historical practices or breed standards.

Breeds like Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, and Dachshunds often do not have dewclaws. However, it’s essential to note that dewclaw presence can still vary among individual dogs within these breeds.

Q4. Why do breeders remove dew claws?

Breeders opt to remove dew claws for several reasons. First, it can align with breed standards, as some breeds are expected to have their dew claws removed to meet specific criteria.

Second, dewclaw removal is seen as a proactive measure to prevent potential injuries or tears, which can be painful for the dog and costly for the owner.

Ultimately, breeders aim to ensure the overall health and safety of their puppies.


Golden Retrievers, like many dog breeds, may have dew claws, but their presence can vary from one individual to another. These vestigial claws serve no functional purpose and are often removed during puppyhood to prevent potential injuries.

While not all Golden Retrievers have dew claws, it’s essential for dog owners to be aware of their existence and discuss any necessary care or removal options with their veterinarian.

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